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Metro Exec Says Higher Fares Needed To Ensure That Service Continues To Improve

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Fares on Metro could be going up... again.
WAMU/Nathasha Lim
Fares on Metro could be going up... again.

Metro says its riders are getting a lot in return for their fare money.

In defending his proposal to raise fares three percent come next July, Metro General Manager Richard Sarles says riders are noticing widespread improvements throughout the system.

"Escalators that are running better. They are not out as much. On time performance of train is higher. On time performance of buses is higher. That is due to spending the right amount of money on maintenance," he says.

Maintenance costs make up only part of Metro's operating budget. Most of your fare money pays for the salaries and benefits of Metro employees. Under Sarles' fiscal 2015 budget plan, wages and salaries are increasing eight percent. Pensions make up 10 percent of the budget. Skeptics of yet another fare increase are asking if wages and benefits are too generous.

"I think when you look back at the wage settlements that were made, they were very modest and they were right in line with what is going on throughout this region," he says.

The proposed fare hike would raise the average train ride by ten cents, and bus fares paid with SmarTrip would go up fifteen cents.

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